Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants: 2017 Week 7 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (3-2) at New York Giants (1-5)

The Seahawks are 3-2 and in a great spot here coming out of their bye week. On the road in The Meadowlands against the Giants, the Seahawks are 4 point road favorites. Road favorites of 3 or more have an incredible track record coming out of the bye, going 41-13 ATS since 2002. However, I can’t be confident in the Seahawks this week because I’m not sure they deserve to be favored by 4 points here, especially considering about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer. Despite their solid record, this has not been the same Seattle team we’ve seen in recent years.

Their 3 wins have come against the 49ers, Colts, and Rams, who are not exactly a tough trio, and they rank just 21st in first down rate differential. While it feels like they could just turn it on mid-season like they normally do, this roster does have some serious problems, given their injury situation. They are without talented rookie running back Chris Carson and valuable edge rusher Cliff Avril for the season, while slot cornerback Jeremy Lane and starting left guard Luke Joeckel are out for an extended period of time. The Giants have plenty of injuries as well, particularly in the receiving corps, but they still have a strong defense and could keep this one close at home. The Seahawks are the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but this is a no confidence pick.

Seattle Seahawks 17 New York Giants 12

Pick against the spread: Seattle -4

Confidence: None

New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers: 2017 Week 7 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (3-2) at Green Bay Packers (4-2)

The Saints are only 3-2, but they’re one of the better teams in the NFC. Their 2 losses came against the Sam Bradford led Vikings and the New England Patriots, in the first 2 weeks of the season. Since then, they’ve defeated the Panthers, Dolphins, and Lions, all by 14 or more points. They finished last season 10th in first down rate differential (with a +9 offensive touchdown differential) and they seem to be even better this season. Their +29 point differential is 6th in the NFL and they’ve only played 5 games.

Drew Brees continues to lead an explosive offense and their defense has been significantly improved this season, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Cameron Jordan and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Marshon Lattimore. They still have issues on that side of the ball, but they might be good enough defensively to go on a run in the NFC if the offense continues to play at a high level. The Falcons rode a similar formula to the Super Bowl last season.

This game against the Packers could have been a NFC Championship preview, but Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone last week against the Vikings, putting his season and the Packers’ playoff chances in jeopardy. 2015 5th round pick Brett Hundley will make his first career start this week and he’s obviously a major downgrade at the quarterback position. The line has subsequently moved from GB -6.5 last week on the early line to NO -4 this week, a whopping 10.5 point line movement.

I would have been all over the Saints at +6.5 against a healthy Aaron Rodgers, but I still think there’s line value with New Orleans -4 against the led Hundley Packers, especially since the Packers will be without Morgan Burnett as well. Burnett has been easily the Packers’ best defensive back this season, so the Packers should have a very tough time stopping Brees and company, which is going to make life very tough for Hundley. The Saints, by contrast, are as healthy as they’ve been all season and they should be able to get an easy win here.

New Orleans Saints 28 Green Bay Packers 20

Pick against the spread: New Orleans -4

Confidence: Medium

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints: 2017 Week 6 NFL Pick

Detroit Lions (3-2) at New Orleans Saints (2-2)

The Lions are 3-2 so far this season and last season they finished 9-7 and made the post-season, but they are not that good of a team. Last season, they didn’t defeat a single playoff team and they won just one game by more than a touchdown. So far this season, their 3 wins have come against the Cardinals, the Giants, and the Case Keenum led Vikings, none of whom are playoff caliber teams. If anything, they are worse this season than last season, as they are without left tackle Taylor Decker, starting defensive end Kerry Hyder, and now starting defensive tackle Haloti Ngata for the season with injury.

The Saints, meanwhile, could easily make the post-season. They’re 2-2, but their 2 losses came against the Vikings, who are one of the better teams in the league when Sam Bradford is healthy, and the Patriots, also a top level team. In their last 2 games before the bye, they outscored the Panthers and Dolphins 54-13 in a pair of wins away from home. Their defense is improved this season, led by talented rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, and their offense remains strong and gets a boost this week with wide receiver Willie Snead and left tackle Terron Armstead likely set to return. Unfortunately, we’re not getting any line value with the Saints, as this line shifted from 3 in favor of the hometown Saints on the early line last week to 4.5 this week, after the Lions’ home loss to the Panthers. I have this line calculated right at -5.5, so I can’t be confident at all in the Saints. 

New Orleans Saints 30 Detroit Lions 24

Pick against the spread: New Orleans -4.5

Confidence: None

New Orleans Saints vs. Miami Dolphins: 2017 Week 4 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (1-2) vs. Miami Dolphins (1-1) in London

The Saints are only 1-2, but they’ve had a tough start to the season, facing the Vikings in Minnesota week 1 when Sam Bradford was still healthy, the Patriots back at home in New Orleans week 2, and then a 2-0 Panthers team in Carolina last week, where they won by 21 points (34-13). Carolina was banged up offensively, but the Panthers had been playing excellent football on the defensive side of the ball, so that was a pretty impressive win. The Saints picked up first downs at a 11.66% higher rate than the Panthers in that game.

Now the schedule gets significantly easier for the Saints, as they enter their bye week with a trip to London to play a Dolphins team that is easily their weakest opponent of the season. The Dolphins won 10 games and made the playoffs last season, but they played arguably the weakest schedule in the league and won 8 of their 10 games by 7 points or fewer, including near losses against the Jets, 49ers, Browns, and Rams. Those were arguably the four worst teams in the league last season and the Dolphins struggled with them. They also lost 4 regular season games by a combined 81 points and lost by 18 to the Steelers in the playoffs.

Making matters worse, the Dolphins lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill for the season before week 1 and had to bring in the previously retired Jay Cutler, who has been a noticeable downgrade so far this season. The Dolphins won in Los Angeles against the Chargers week 1, but that’s because the Chargers have no homefield advantage and because the Chargers missed two makeable field goals. Last week, the Dolphins lost to the lowly Jets by 14 points in New York. They enter the week dead last in the league in first down rate differential (-9.17%) and they haven’t had a tough schedule.

The Saints are arguably the best team the Dolphins have faced so far this season because they’re finally getting guys back that have been out. Not only is the Saints schedule getting easier, but their roster is getting more talented too, so they could be a smart bet going forward. Top cornerback Marshon Lattimore returns from a one game absence, while right tackle Zach Strief will return to the lineup for the first time since being knocked out in the first half against the Vikings week 1. They could also get back slot cornerback Sterling Moore back from his one game absence, wide receiver Willie Snead back for the first time this season, and, most importantly, left tackle Terron Armstead back for the first time this season. I have this line calculated at about -7 in favor of the Saints, so we’re getting significant value with New Orleans.

The Saints are also in a better spot than the Dolphins because they get a bye week next week, while the Dolphins have to travel back home to face a tough Tennessee team. That game will actually by the Dolphins’ season opener, as they’ve started their season with a brutal stretch. Their week 1 game was moved to week 11 by Hurricane Irma and since then they’ve had to play games in Los Angeles, New York, and now London in a 3-week stretch, before ever getting to play at home. The Saints could be more focused for this game and are a significantly better team overall, so they should be able to win by a field goal or more. If this line drops to 2.5, I’d move this up to a high confidence pick, but they’re still worth betting at 3.

New Orleans Saints 31 Miami Dolphins 24

Pick against the spread: New Orleans -3

Confidence: Medium

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers: 2017 Week 3 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-0)

The Panthers’ defense has been incredible through the first 2 games of the season with Luke Kuechly back from the concussions that cost him time last season and with a pair of young cornerbacks (James Bradberry and Daryl Worley) taking a step forward. They’ve allowed just 23 first downs and no touchdowns through 2 games. Even against the likes of the Bills and the 49ers, those kind of numbers are impressive. Unfortunately, their offense has some major issues. Cam Newton still looks rusty after off-season surgery and their offense struggled to move the ball all game against the Bills after losing tight end Greg Olsen and center Ryan Kalil, a pair of very valuable veteran offensive players.

Olsen and Kalil will be out for an extended period of time, so the Panthers will have to adapt. Fortunately, they get to face arguably the worst defense in the league this week with the Saints coming to town. The Saints’ defense is banged up too, missing #1 cornerback Marshon Lattimore and slot cornerback Sterling Moore. Between those two and Delvin Breaux, who has been out all season, the Saints are missing their top-3 cornerbacks. They are also without a talented defensive tackle, Nick Fairley, for the season.

The Saints also have key players missing on offense, with left tackle Terron Armstead and right tackle Zach Strief both out with injuries and #2 wide receiver Willie Snead still suspended. With both teams banged up, this line is right around where it should be at 5.5. I am taking the Panthers just because the Saints have to go to London after this one and teams are understandably 11-21 ATS before going to London all-time. The Saints could easily keep it close throughout or get a backdoor touchdown late though.

Carolina Panthers 27 New Orleans Saints 20

Pick against the spread: Carolina -5.5

Confidence: None

New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints: 2017 Week 2 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)

One of the big surprises of week 1 was the Patriots losing at home to the Chiefs by 15. The Patriots entered the season as the consensus top team in the league and hadn’t lost a meaningful conference home game with Tom Brady since the 2012 AFC Championship. The Patriots’ defensive front 7 had a lot of problems, especially after Dont’a Hightower went down with a knee injury, while their offense seemed to really miss Julian Edelman, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Hightower will miss this game, meaning the Patriots are now without 4 linebackers they had in July (Rob Ninkovich, Derek Rivers, Shea McClellin). The Patriots will also be without wide receiver Danny Amendola, who joins fellow wide receivers Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell on the sidelines.

All that being said, the Patriots still are one of the more talented teams in the league. Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski are a dangerous receiving duo who should have better weeks when not matched up with Marcus Peters and Eric Berry. They have a strong offensive line, a stable of running backs who can carry the ball and/or contribute in the passing game, a talented secondary and, of course, Tom Brady under center. Brady has been especially dangerous off of a loss in his career, going 35-17 ATS (Bill Belichick is 45-24 ATS as head coach of the Patriots).

That being said, this line didn’t really adjust for the loss, as it remains at 6.5, where it was on the early line. Part of that is probably because even casual bettors know how well the Patriots bounce back from losses at this point (New England is one of the most heavily bet teams on the week). Part of that is probably because the Saints had a disappointing week 1 performance in Minnesota, in a 29-19 loss. The Vikings are an underrated team, but there is reason for concern with the Saints, especially with cornerback Delvin Breaux, left tackle Terron Armstead, and wide receiver Willie Snead out. Right tackle Zach Strief will join them on the sideline this week, so the Saints are pretty short-handed as well. The Patriots should be the right side, but I would not recommend betting them at -6.5.

New England Patriots 34 New Orleans Saints 26

Pick against the spread: New England -6.5

Confidence: Low

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings: 2017 Week 1 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (0-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-0)

This line favors the hometown Vikings by a field goal, suggesting these two teams are more or less equal. I have the Saints with two fewer wins than the Vikings in my season preview (10 vs. 8) and I have the Saints a few spots below the Vikings in my rankings, so I think we’re getting some line value with the home team. The Vikings finished last season 8-8, but improved both their offensive line and their running game in significant ways this off-season and should have better injury luck than last season. Those two things should add a couple wins to their total if Sam Bradford can have another solid season under center.

The Saints, meanwhile, traded away one of their top offensive players Brandin Cooks this off-season for a first round pick, which they eventually used on offensive tackle Ryan Ramcyzk, who will have to make the week 1 start in place of left tackle Terron Armstead, who is also one of the Saints’ best offensive players and will miss the start of the season after off-season shoulder surgery. In addition, they are without wide receiver Willie Snead for the first 3 games of the season with suspension, cornerback Delvin Breaux for the first half of the season with injury, and defensive tackle Nick Fairley for the season with a career threatening heart condition.

They finished last season 10th in first down rate differential despite a 7-9 record, but are not the same team as last season and could get a lot of worse if quarterback Drew Brees shows his age in his age 38 season. There isn’t enough here for me to put money on the Vikings as field goal favorites, especially since they are a heavy public lean this week for some reason, but they should be the right side. I think there’s also a strong possibility of a push in this game, especially if Brees leads a garbage time touchdown down 10 late in the 4th quarter.

Minnesota Vikings 27 New Orleans Saints 23

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3

Confidence: Low